Is this karma?

I broke up with my girlfriend when our long-distance relationship wasn't working out. Now she won't talk to me at all. What did I do?

Published January 31, 2003 8:03PM (EST)

Dear Cary,

Four months ago I broke off a very rewarding and promising relationship with an amazing girl. Why? Because I was only thinking about the immediate outcome for myself.

Some background: I met her at a very emotionally unstable time in my life. I'm 21 and my doctor had reason to believe that I had an aneurysm. Further testing concluded that I didn't. During this time she was there to comfort me and we started dating. Everything was almost perfect.

A couple of weeks after we started dating I left town for a month. That went well for both of us, and based on that I thought that everything would be fine between us. If we could handle that at the beginning of a relationship, then we could handle much more.

During the next month or so after my return we totally fell for each other. We spent almost every day together, staying out all night, having great conversations, and connecting on every level. She met all of my closest friends and my mother, and I met her family and friends who live on the other side of our state. This was by far the most serious relationship I had ever been in. Before her I was somewhat of a player. Women were a hobby to me, as bad as it is. If I was with someone for more than a week, they were doing a really good job.

After this I moved a couple hours away to find a new way of life, in a new city. She probably would have joined me, but the only reason she was in my hometown was to pursue her degree in psychology at the local university. This separation was a major strain on both of us, but we decided to stay together. We visited a couple of times and the last time she visited me her stay was short. A couple of her friends came with her, we went out to the club, and she left the next morning. We talked twice on the phone later that day, and expressed how much that feeling of missing each other really, really sucked. Then she just stopped calling me, and stopped returning my calls. I was totally shocked and very confused and I was completely alone in this new city. A couple of weeks later I returned home for a wedding. When I tried to talk to her about this she was very defensive. Her response was "are you interrogating me or something." I backed down from the argument and spent the rest of the weekend in an uncomfortable state of mind.

When I returned to my new home I decided to write her and break things off. She responded with some psychological bullshit that was just meant to palliate the situation. I was left feeling that our problems were unresolved. I didn't want to end things, but I felt betrayed and I was just being selfish. Any contact that I have made since has gone without response. I really fell in love, and can't stop thinking about her. Is this karma's way of getting back at me for all the women I have treated with such disrespect, or did I really hurt her? Long-distance relationships are very hard to manage, but I would at least like to have her as a friend. What should I do?

Is It Karma?

Dear Is It Karma,

You broke up with her and you have to live with that. It's not karma, it's just taking responsibility for your actions. It's not unusual to feel remorse at having broken up. But you can't take it back.

I suspect that a lot was going on that you didn't understand. Maybe she didn't understand it either. You say that although your relationship was going well, you "moved a couple hours away to find a new way of life, in a new city." I don't understand what that means, and she probably didn't either. It doesn't sound like you were compelled to move away. On the other hand, she had courses to finish in your town. So if you really wanted the relationship to work, you could have stayed in town. Your leaving undoubtedly contributed to the breakup, not only by creating physical distance between you but because she must have wondered what your purpose was in going to a new city to "find a new way of life." It almost sounds like you were joining a cult or something.

When she showed up in your city with two friends, that was an indication that she was breaking it off. If she had wanted to nourish the relationship, she would have come alone, so you and she could spend more time together. So neither of you has really done what people do when they're trying to stay together.

I think you're probably just feeling selfish remorse at the loss. Next time, if you find a woman you really want to keep, don't leave town.

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Want more advice from Cary? Read yesterday's column.

By Cary Tennis

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